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The back of the house fell off!

And we’re pretty happy about it! When we bought our 1950’s house 5 years ago, it had an extension on the back that was added in the 80’s by the previous owners. The extension had a huge amount of glass windows and doors facing north and no eaves. It made a fantastic greenhouse, but not a very comfortable space to be in, except during the day in the winter months. It also leaked in the rain, had no insulation, and the floor was essentially a deck, with large gaps between the boards. The stairs leading down to the garden were becoming really unsafe, and underneath the house was a tiny laundry you couldn’t really stand up straight in.

So we’ve been dreaming for years about rebuilding this area – and it’s started with the back of the house being dismantled!

We took apart the back of the house with much care, so as many materials as possible could be reused or recycled. It didn’t literally fall off – but it sure looks like it did!

In the new build we’ll be reusing the flooring, joists and bearers from the original extension. The metal and concrete from the area was taken to local recyclers. We were really pleased to only have a small amount of material that had to go to the local tip. We did have some asbestos though, which had to be carefully and painstakingly removed, sealed up and taken to a special waste facility, at the cost of $350 for a ute load.

To help us design the rebuild we’ve engaged local architect Morgen Figgis from Barnacle Studios. With his creativity and passion for sustainability, Morgen has helped us come up with a plan that we just love. The biggest changes will be moving the kitchen and our main living area to the new northern space, creating an outdoor deck and having a proper height laundry and storage areas underneath. We’ll feel so much more connected to the garden and the magical Illawarra escarpment in our new space!

Eco-friendly features of the new extension will include:

-          Solar passive design

-          Reverse block veneer construction

-          Low-e glazed windows

-          Use of recycled materials

-          Use of local sustainably hardwood timber and FSC certified timber

-          Natural sealers and paints

-          Water tanks connected to the new and old house  

Let the next chapter in our adventure in urban sustainability begin!

Reader Comments (8)

Sounds like a good plan with all those 'green' features.
Looking forward to seeing it come to life.
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZara
Good luck!
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdixiebelle
You are a very adventurous pair, tackling a reno with a little one! Enjoy the journey, looking forward to hearing how you go with it. Best wishes :)
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMandy
That's very exciting news! I know how hard it is to wait for something you really want (and need) to happen, in order to make life at home more comfortable. I'm not talking about plasma screen tv's, but the really essential stuff like not living in a heated box during summer, so you're forced to use electricity for cooling.

In the first house we owned, we installed air-conditioning and when we built our second house I swore we'd never get it installed. There is something unnatural about living in a climate inside the house, which is too far removed from the climate outside. Thus, it's taken us a long time in the new house to build up a garden, so the plants can create a more comfortable micro-climate.

I bet you guys noticed a huge difference in temperatures once you removed the concrete swimming pool and installed the mandala gardens! I can't imagine the heat generated in the house from the concrete pool into that old glass extension? Plants are much more efficient at regulating temperature, than concrete and glass. So believe me when I say I understand I understand how it feels to wait so long for something to improve the way the house responds to (and the plants/structures around it) the extremes outside.
September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Wow, what a change! I can't wait to see what the extension looks like.
September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarren (Green Change)
another one who can't wait to see the finished result! :)
(But who will have to, I know I know. I think ~I'm~ busting - you guys must be doubly so!)
September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristy @ See My Footprints
and when are we going to hear more about your little baby? id love to hear how she is dressed and cared for and fed and what she does at happy earth! all of your gardens and recipes and chooks and building are so inspiring... some baby time now please!
October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermel
Renovating is chalenging, especially when you want to do stuff youself and have a young child to look after at the same time. We did it, and it was not easy. We are happy now that it is all done though. The house is "airy" and does not need air conditioning!
Sitting back on the deck overlookin the garden is sooo relaxing...
Hope your project gets completed without trouble :-)
November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDory

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